Morning New Digest: April 21, 2010

NJ Voters Appear To Reject Most School Budgets

Gov. Chris Christie, who has urged school districts to check spending and teachers to accept pay freezes, won a major victory as voters in most towns appeared to have rejected school budgets in elections Tuesday.  According to unofficial results, voters turned down 260 of 479 budgets in 19 counties Tuesday night — a rejection rate of 54 percent. Budgets were on the ballots in a total of 537 districts across the state’s 21 counties.(Mulvihill, Associated Press)

Keshishian to Christie: apologize


First, the governor was outraged over an email sent by a teachers union chieftain. He demanded an apology. Now, New Jersey Teachers Association President Barbara Keshishian is outraged by Christie’s choice of words. The Star-Ledger quoted the governor yesterday referring to teachers using students as “drug mules.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Jeffries, Lamourt and Speight prevail in Newark

The Vote for Our Kids Team backed by North Ward Leader Steve Adubato won in the race for three seats on the Newark Advisory Board. Shavar Jeffries was the top vote-getter with 4,653 or 24.43%, followed by allies Ivan Lamourt with 3,670 or 19.27% and Shanique Speight with 3,118 or 16.37%. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Lester holding onto lead over D’Amico by 380 votes 

Her teacher union/Steve Fulop backed running mates destroyed the field tonight, but Fulop ally Carol Lester is not yet a sure victor in a 16-person race for three School Board seats. With 93 percent of the districts reporting and running mates Sterling Waterman and Angel Valentin accumulating record vote totals, Lester (who’s backed by Fulop but not the teachers’ union) has just a 380-point lead over Sebastian D’Amico, a retired employee with the Jersey City Board of Education. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Regulators to create task force to improve N.J. 2013 gubernatorial debate 

New Jersey election regulators plan to create a task force to improve gubernatorial debates in time for the 2013 election. Jeff Brindle, executive director of the Election Law Enforcement Commission, proposed the panel after campaign officials and voter advocates testified Tuesday about their concerns with the debate system during the 2009 election. (Heininger, The Record) 

N.J. Sen. Paul Sarlo criticizes Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno for refusing to answer questions about the state budget 

Kim Guadagno’s appearance as secretary of state before a Senate budget panel Tuesday took a brutally riveting turn as the committee’s chairman demanded she answer questions in her other role as New Jersey’s lieutenant governor. Guadagno, who holds both positions in Governor Christie’s administration at one salary, began her testimony by saying she was appearing as the secretary of state. (Ackermann, The Record) 

Red-tape panel has no easy answers

 The results of a three-month study on how to make it easier to run a business in New Jersey offers no quick solutions. Instead, the 130-page report released Monday contains dozens of suggestions that would require action from legislators and rule makers and, in one case, a constitutional amendment. Gov. Christie charged an eight-member Red Tape Review Group chaired by Lt. Gov. Guadagno with streamlining the state’s rule-making process. (Conaboy/Lu, Inquirer) 

Hoboken’s ex-mayor pleads guilty in corruption case 

One of the highest-ranking former politicians to be caught up in New Jersey’s massive corruption and money laundering probe pleaded guilty Tuesday to accepting bribes from a man he thought was a developer but who was really an undercover witness wearing a wire. Former Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano III pleaded guilty to one count of extortion conspiracy, admitting that he accepted bribes … under the guise of campaign contributions … from an informant posing as a corrupt developer. (Henry, AP) 

New payroll records shed light on governor’s staff

 Gov. Chris Christie’s payroll is 2.2 percent larger than then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s was one year ago, with a three-person decline in the number of staffers offset by an increase in the number of highly paid employees. Thirty-three of the 116 employees on a staff salary report from Christie’s office are 
paid $100,000 or more, compared with 23 of the 119 people listed on a roster of 
Corzine’s employees from last April. Overall costs for the governor’s staff are up by 
$186,515, to around $8.69 million. (Symons, Gannett) 

Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan touts alternative state budget 

A former rival of Gov. Chris Christie today touted an alternative state budget he says would cost $2.4 billion less than the one Christie proposed last month. “There seems to be a general feeling that there have been spending cuts. That’s not the case,” said former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, who is currently state director for the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity. Lonegan added that there is too much spending on entitlement programs in Christie’s budget. (Friedman, The Record) 

Stile: Leadership contest could hurt Democrats

 For most of the last decade, the Bergen Republicans engaged in enough infighting and nasty personality differences to fill a panel on “The Jerry Springer Show.” Now it may be the Democrats’ turn. (Stile, The Record) 

Ingle: Christie has 53% approval in new poll

 A new Rasmussen poll shows 53 percent of N.J. voters approving of Gov. Christie’s job performance. (Just before he took office 57 percent had a favorable opinion of him.) Rasmussen says 32 percent of voters strongly approve. On the other side, 45 percent disapprove of Christie and 30 percent of them strongly disapprove. (Ingle, Gannett) Morning New Digest: April 21, 2010